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Businesses worry street beautification project could affect their operations

Boulder City is planning a beautification project for Nevada Highway, and several local merchants are concerned with how it could affect their businesses.

As part of the Boulder City Parkway complete street project, the plan is to widen the sidewalks, create bike lanes, improve pedestrian and bike crossings, improve the median, and create bus turnouts from Gingerwood Street to Buchanan Boulevard.

All these additions will take away space from the businesses along that portion of the roadway.

Chris Gatlin, owner of Woodchuck’s, is concerned about the lack of space he’ll have once the sidewalk and road are widened. Woodchuck’s, at 1504 Nevada Highway, is a platinum Stihl dealer that provides sales and service for all the company’s products.

“I have the smallest lot with the largest stuff,” he said.

At Woodchuck’s people can also rent U-Haul items, as well as buy firewood and propane gas. Gatlin said he has a constant stream of trucks, RVs, trailers, cars and semitrucks coming to his business.

“Our businesses require ingress and egress,” he said about Woodchuck’s and a business next to him, B &J Body Shop. “It’s hard right now with the traffic.”

Gatlin said he stands to lose 16½ feet from the front of his shop, which will hurt the ingress and egress on which his business relies.

“I will have only a car width in front of my business. I can’t get a semi in there for delivery. It will also make it difficult for U-Haul,” he said. “I will have a hard time getting garbage collected, too.”

Should the space be taken away, Gatlin may have to discontinue some of what he provides for the community, like propane delivery, U-Haul services and firewood.

Limited parking, access

Charles Williams of B &J Body Shop is also concerned about how these proposed changes could affect his business.

“The use of the front of our property will be pretty restrictive,” he said. “We have a lot of truck traffic, from box vans to semis.”

Williams estimates he will lose between six and eight parking spaces in front of his shop. He is also concerned about the median proposed for the middle of the road.

“If there’s a median there, they wouldn’t be able to get in,” he said of semitrucks. “They will have to find a way.”

“It’s complimentary of them (the city) to want to be in business for us,” he added. “But when they restrict our business, it’s going to have a direct impact on us.”

Gatlin agreed.

“I agree with making it more attractive for visitors, but it shouldn’t kill local business,” he said.

Scott Hansen, Public Works Director for Boulder City, said these businesses’ needs are being considered with the project’s design.

“We are meeting with each and every business owner to discuss their concerns. As you may guess, each business is a little different,” he said. “At this time, the city will not need to acquire any right of way for the project. The space some of the businesses have been using is public right of way. When this complete street project works, the businesses will not need as much parking, as more people will be walking and biking along this corridor.

“We completed the reach from Buchanan Boulevard to Wyoming Street in 2012 and many businesses are flourishing as a result of the project,” he added.

In terms of the deliveries by semitrucks and large vehicles, those needs are also being included in the design.

“The engineers will put the semitruck template on the plan sheets to make sure the businesses can be served,” Hansen said.

Unknown impact

Another concern Gatlin has is that the city is making these plans without knowing exactly how the upcoming Interstate 11 will affect the traffic along U.S. Highway 93, which is known as Nevada Highway and will be changed to Boulder City Parkway.

“They’re making decisions without information,” he said. “They can think they know, but they do not know.”

Kevin Devine, owner of Alpaca Imports, thinks the long-term effect of the project will benefit the community, but it will hurt in the short term with the loss of traffic from the construction and I-11 interstate.

“I think it’s cataclysmic for the community,” he said.

“My personal opinion is that it will be a huge impact for three to five years … Instincts tell me that both those things happening at the same time will really hurt the community … There will be a trickle down,” he added.

Another local business, All Mountain Cyclery, has a different opinion about the beautification project.

“I’m excited about it,” said Kurt Horack, general manager of the store. “This road is going to have more bicycle traffic.”

“I don’t see any bad thing about it,” he added. “I think the final rebuttal to all the negative is the byproduct of change.”

Multimillion dollar project

As for the cost of the beautification project, Hansen said that it’s too early to tell the detailed costs, but he estimates the final price tag to be between $4 million and $9 million.

“Since this is a regional road, it qualifies for funding through the Regional Transportation Commission,” he said. “Boulder City receives limited funding from RTC, but I feel this is one of the most important roads in Boulder City, as it serves as the entrance to our community. We need to find a funding source for the amenities that accompany the project: trees, shrubs, benches, etc. We also need to find a funding source for perpetual maintenance. We will be discussing these items at upcoming budget meetings.”

Hansen plans to make a presentation about the project at the March 28 City Council meeting.

“Based on council direction, we can proceed with the engineering design, which is scheduled for completion in April 2018,” he added.

When finished, the Boulder City Parkway complete street project will transform a portion of U.S. Highway 93, through the city limits from Interstate 11 to Pacifica Way. Currently, the city has only received funding to design the portion from Gingerwood Street to Buchanan Boulevard, and plans to secure funds to start construction of this phase next year.

Its purpose is to improve the roadway by creating a complete street design that can be safe and mobile for everyone who uses the roadway, as well as being attractive to businesses and visitors.

Contact reporter Celia Shortt Goodyear at cgoodyear@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow her on Twitter @csgoodyear.

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